Saturday, November 09, 2013

Friday Recap : Week One

Welcome to our second online literary festival at Reading for Australia.  It's been a big first week!

Each Friday, I’ll be posting a recap of the week’s events in case you missed them and invite you to tell us what you’re reading. If you’d like a recommendation for new books to read, send a comment telling us what sorts of books you like and other readers may be able to give you some suggestions.


Last Friday, Wayne Mills, the Kids' Lit Quiz founder and quizmaster opened our festival,  welcoming our guest authors and our international audience to a month-long reading adventure.  Wayne reviewed the 2013 Kids' Lit Quiz competition and pre-viewed the 2014 competition.

We are very excited to welcome schools in Singapore and Hong Kong to our international community of readers.  As a former Hong Konger, I'm especially pleased that Hong Kong kids can now share the fun of the Kids' Lit Quiz.  I might even know some of you!!  Good luck on 11 December.  Interested schools should contact Nick Atkinson on for information.

Isobelle Carmody began our guest author series of posts on Monday with her aptly-titled photo essay, The Story Road.  Accompanied by Jan Stolba's photographs, taken in Iceland this northern summer, Isobelle took readers on a writer's journey, where the transport and the destination may be known but the route is uncertain.  It is a beautiful piece of writing.

On Tuesday, Meredith Costain shared her love of poetry with us in her post, Playing with Words.  There's a lot of information about poems you might like and links to other poetry sites you can check out.  Congratulations to Meredith on the recent publication  - only last month - of My First Day at School, a collection of poems for young readers starting school for the first time.

I was also thrilled to be introduced to Hilaire Belloc's Cautionary Tales for Children, first published in 1907.  Meredith's childhood favourite poem was "Matilda who told lies and was burned to Death"  but mine is "Rebecca who slammed doors for fun and perished Miserably" though I also have a soft spot for "Algernon who played with a loaded gun and, on missing his sister, was reprimanded by his Father."

How Scary is too Scary?  Clare Havens raised this interesting topic for discussion on Wednesday. As Clare observes, dark themes and scary subjects have long been an integral part of children's literature.  Where do you draw the line?  Does a line need to be drawn?  Have your say in the comments section.

Clare also links to Sam Leith's excellent 2009 article in the Guardian newspaper, "Do you know what today's kids need?  Thumb amputation, that's what!"  Both the article and comments from readers are worth reading.  I liked this part of one comment:
Scary books prepare children for a scary world, so when they are handed responsibility/risk they understand there are moral/physical consequences for actions and non-actions....
If we had more books about those bugbears hiding in the woods wanting to eat us up (out of love or otherwise) then we would be able to sidestep them, cast them aside, or change them into something positive.
On Thursday, Erica Wagner's Mirrors and Windows was the first in our feature posts on the book publishing industry.  Over the next few weeks, we'll have guests writing about their book-related occupations.  And why is the article called Mirrors and Windows?  Here's why:
[The Oz Children's Laureates,] Alison and Boori are the perfect ambassadors: charming, articulate, passionate, and able to speak to the idea (coined by former publisher and children’s book champion, Margaret Hamilton) that books at their best are mirrors and windows - as mirrors, reflecting ourselves back to ourselves, and as windows revealing different lives and cultures and ideas. This ability of books to facilitate self-knowledge as well as compassion and empathy is what keeps us all doing what we do. 
Finally, today saw the first of our very popular, kids' book reviews.  Thank you Madeleine from the United Kingdom and Sonali and Bharveer from South Africa for  providing these reviews.  All the reviews provided by kids are listed on the left sidebar.

I"ll leave you with an infographic my niece brought to my attention (thanks, Jess!)

The National Reading Campaign in Canada has asked that this information, on why reading is good for you, be circulated to readers or would-be readers, so here it is!  There are more facts on the benefits of reading at this link.

Happy, world-saving reading, everyone!


  1. Very cool facts; I'd be interested to know what the reading statistics of other countries are- say Australia?

    1. A good question. Have a look at this report by the Australia Council on reading trends in Australia based on evaluation research of the Get Reading! campaign conducted from 2008 to 2012: